One of my favorite parts of going to an audio show are the big rooms or ballroom/meeting rooms. Big rooms usually mean large systems, with six-foot-tall speakers and mini fridge-sized power amps. Sometimes they don’t sound as good as the smaller rooms because it’s hard to dial in a system in the middle of a vast space, but the scale and power they produce are incredible.
On Friday, the first day of Axpona 2022, I spent most of my time rolling around the big rooms and seeing some really impressive stuff. Here’s the recap!
One of my first stops was the Auralic/ATC room, where they had the ATC active floorstanders on display. They had two systems on hand; one featured the ATC SCM100ASLT active tower speakers in a rare crown walnut finish at $50,999 pr., and the second system utilized ATC SCM19AT active tower speaker in a cherry finish ($9999 pr.)
These systems weren’t the largest, but the ATC speakers always have some of the best midrange presence of any system, and the Auralic streamers provided the depth and detail they needed to sound great.
Next, I checked out a room with some impressive STENHEIM Reference Ultime Two speakers ($153k), matched with two VTL S-400 Reference Stereo Amps Series II ($37,500 ea.), they also had a VTL phono stage, Line Preamp, along with a WADAX Atlantis DAC ($145k), and Reference Server ($59,000). They also had a $20k VPI HW-40 turntable on hand. Everything was connected with Nordost cables.
Gryphon Audio had their new APEX Power Amp (441 + lbs!/$99,000 – $198,000) on hand along with their new Commander Preamp & PSU ($63,500). Unfortunately, they weren’t set up to play music, but they looked magnificent nonetheless.
I’m a big fan of Magico Speakers, so hearing the Magico M6 floorstanders ($185,000) paired up with new electronics from Luxman was a treat. Luxman had their new M-10X Monoblocks ($19,995) on hand, the new D-10X SACD Player ($16,995), and the new PD-151 MKII turntable. Additionally, they had the Luxman C-900u Control Pre-Amp and E-250 Reference Phono Eq.
This system had so much rich texture and transparency that I had no choice but to sit for a while.
I also dug the room with the new Von Schweikert Audio Ultra 7 ($180k/pr.) Flagship Speaker coupled with VAC and Esoteric Electronics. Von Schweikert always has the best colors for their speakers and the complement of drivers here is bananas: “Front Facing – three 9″ reinforced Ceramic Woofers, one 7″ reinforced Ceramic Midrange, one Beryllium Tweeter, and one Dual Ribbon Super Tweeter. Rear-Facing – one Ribbon Super Tweeter and one Magnesium Horn Loaded Tweeter combined into our Rear Ambient Array.”
As usual, Focal/Naim had a great-looking room with some spectacular Focal Maestro Utopia Speakers ($37,999) paired with Naim Statement Separates (3 pieces @ $129,999 each) and a Naim NDX2 Streamer as the source ($8,799). Focal speakers are always lively in a good way, and these Maestro Utopia’s were rocking while maintaining remarkable composure.
Along with the Maestro Utopias at the front of the room, they also had the latest Focal Headphones matched up with the Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition ($3799). My favorite pairing was the Stellia ($2999)-Atom combo, hooked up with the balanced cable.
Burmester also had a beautiful system based around their BC150 standmount speakers ($150k), which comes from their reference line. These speakers are a work of art, and the attention to detail is almost second to none. Believe it or not, these speakers are the compact version of the flagship BC350. There’s remarkable detail in this setup!
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I’m an audio writer who started as a young audio salesman/consumer electronics professional back in the late 90s. That’s where I discovered the magic of 2-Channel sound. My hunger for great sound has led me on a delightful music quest that continues today.